Don't Throw That Old Phone in a Box, Repurpose It

If you are much like me, you are getting a new phone roughly every other phone generation. This was leading to an abundance of old hardware collecting dust in a box, so I finally decided that I would put them to use. These tips may not bring back that new phone excitement, but they could perpetuate their usefulness and save them from the island of misfit gadgets. 

1. DSLR remote

Yes, your phone has a camera, but you can also use it to trigger your DSLR. Whether you want to turn it into the ultimate selfie machine or create a sound trigger, these apps can do just that. Triggertrap for iOS and DSLR remote for Android.

2. USB / WiFi mass storage device

Your old device is likely ranging from 8GB - 64GB, which is a lot of space to let go to waste. These apps can turn that old Tinder machine into something more useful. USB Share for Android and USB & Wi-Fi Flash Drive for iOS are a great place to start. 

3. Dedicated hiking mobile camera

New devices are expensive, and no one really wants to wind up breaking their new device on a hike or climbing around your city. If you’re hiking, the chances of having service is slim anyways. Opting to leave the new phone behind, I still get great images from the old iPhone 5 and my Moment Lenses.

4. Mount the old device as a surveillance camera

Too often, I see stories of friends' cameras walking out of their homes. They should be insured, but it’s a major inconvenience that no one wants to deal with. Surveillance apps could help protect your home and gear. You could even mount it on your door’s peephole to see if it’s the UPS driver with your new lens or your neighbor trying to sell you cookies. Presence for iOS & Home Video Survelillance for Android are worth checking out. 

5. Other ideas

You can dock the old phone on your desk and dedicate it as a digital photo frame or live twitter feed. Logitech has a kit to convert your phone into a media control center, and with Spotify’s (iOS | Android) latest update you can change the music playing on your computer while you’re away from the desk. Use Forever Map (iOS) to replace your Garmin and stop wasting your primary device's battery. I'd love to hear what useful ideas you have all come up with for your old devices.

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TImothy Tichy's picture

Hmmm, I'll have to look up that Logitech kit; put my old Galaxy S2 to use.

Wade Carrier's picture

My old 3GS, has been turned into a music player for the little ones bedroom at night, Ocean Waves, etc... its small and easy to bring along when we travel. (Not to mention a nice night light.)

Garett Harnish's picture

Another program for #1, assuming you have an old android device (tablet or phone) and a compatible Canon EOS camera: DSLR Controller (

Kyle Ford's picture

Awesome I'll check that out too!

Elias Rangel's picture

Maybe as light meter.

Kyle Ford's picture

Great! I totally didn't even this of that and I use it weekly for that. Duhhh. Thanks!

Paulo Macedo's picture

"The old iPhone 5", good Lord, that's a 2 year old model, or maybe less. It's a more than capable terminal, and still an expensive phone in most european countries. I had the iPhone 5C, sold it and i must say the camera was great. What kept me away from them was the lack of true file manager and the fact the apps can't share files (example, each PDF reader must have its own file, duplication).
I would not go on a hike with the iPhone 4S much less the 5. I now use the 1+ One.
This is where android fragmentation plays a big role. The low end terminals are more than capable of controlling your DSLR, and with the microSD card slot, make some good external storage, so if i went to a hike to shoot some landscape i would rather go with some 100€ android phone than my 500€ iPhone.
What i do is, take my low end samsung or acer phone, that costs like 70€, and leave the OnePlus at home.
1EUR = 1.25USD.